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The world's top 50 pharmaceutical companies accounted for prescription drug sales of $558 billion (413 billion euro) in 2008.
The world's top 50 pharmaceutical companies accounted for prescription drug sales of $558 billion (€413 billion) in 2008. Though a few more companies dipped into negative growth than the previous year, more than half of the list achieved double-digit growth, a sign that although recession eventually hits even pharma, it usually hits later than in many other industries.
THE PHARMA TOP 50
These rankings are based on companies' own reported sales, taken from US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and annual reports. In a handful of cases — mostly involving private companies that do not disclose sales figures — sales figures were graciously provided by IMS Health. (These numbers are marked by an asterisk in the rankings chart.) Though IMS numbers typically vary somewhat from the figures reported to the SEC, they are close enough to give a fair sense of how the nonreporting companies compare with their peers.
The sales figures provided here reflect global sales of human prescription drugs and vaccines. As far as possible, royalty revenue, contract manufacturing, animal health, and over-thecounter drug revenue have been excluded. Foreign currencies are converted using the interbank rate for the last day of the company's fiscal year — 31 December 2008, for most European companies and 31 March 2008, for most Japanese companies. This year, there was one exception to this policy: GlaxoSmithKline, the only company among the 50 to report its revenue in British pounds. At the end of 2008, the pound dipped to record lows against the dollar. At those rates, the company would have fallen to fifth place in the rankings, posting a revenue loss of more than 20%. Because that seemed a distortion of GSK's performance, the company's sales figures have been converted as if the fiscal year ended in April 2009. This may slightly overstate GSK's performance, but it seems to better reflect reality.
Next year's list will of course be much different, thanks to the round of mergers announced since the beginning of the year. For a preview of how the Top Ten will change, Pharmaceutical Executive offer a "what if" version of the Top Ten — recalculating 2008 revenue of the Top Ten as if the mergers took place last year.